Michael Polanyi and Human Identity

Tradition and Discovery 21 (3):5-18 (1994)
This paper conceives the distinction between human and animal identity in terms (drawn from theological anthropology) of distinctively human “habitation of a world.’’ It develops models for this using Polanyi’s account of the figure-ground polarity of acts of knowing in general. It identifies three distinct forms taken by this polarity, each offering its own model for human identity in its engagement with the world. Two of these models prove fatally one-sided. The third discloses the character of human identity in its relatedness and openness, its continuity and discontinuity with animal identity. This characterisation of human identity resonates with ideas found in Christian theological anthropology
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